Thursday, May 29, 2008

Book Review - I am America (and so can you!) by Stephen Colbert

I know about the show “The Colbert Report”. It is a big Hit in US. But I never thought of watching it. I thought it was one other late late late shows. But after reading this book, I am gonna start watching the show. This book is freaking hilarious. It is pure mockery. Nothing but mockery. It is filled with really really offensive jokes. After the introduction, this book has a “How to read this book” page. Just read that page and you will get the feel of the book. I basically love sarcasm. (My fav character in F.R.I.E.N.D.S is Chandler Bing). This book is filled with sarcasm.

One of the many interesting things are the comments. You can find comments in the margins for the contents in the main page. It is actually distracting but I liked it. Very lively comments. When he talks about some personality, he uses their real name and the comment on the margin says “Names have not been changed. If carl cant handle it maybe he should find another church basement to dribble in. No one drives my lane without paying the toll". I bet you will laugh out loud. Every comment on the margin is similar to this. Lively and funny.

There is one other chapter on old people. In one place, he was discussing some serious issue and he added a quote there. Reading the quote i was really moved. When i looked the margin for his comments, this is what i saw "I made this quote up".

There is a chapter about sports. The name of the chapter when he begins talking about sports is “Sports”. But 2 pages down the line, he will “sell” the chapter to highest bidder (like most sports teams in US, which are owned by corporates and rich individuals. BTW, are you thinking about IPL now?) And after that, the chapter will be called “Chevron, the gas with Techron”. And 2 pages from that, he changes the name to "Kraft, creamy italian dressing". Every chapter is like this. There is some creative idea to make you laugh.

There is this chapter on immigrants and Higher education. Both these chapters are my fav in the entire book. In the higher education chapter he talks about resumes. According to the author, universities teach students nothing but to lie in resumes. This is how he says it. “One day in college you are bored in your class and make out with the Danish Exchange student next to you. And when you apply for a company, you tell in your resume that you carried out, ‘an independent research in a foreign tongue’.

And also in the higher education chapter, there is a page where he takes some modules from a typical university and gives his one line comments. Awesome. Just awesome. Few module names and Colbert’s comments in braces.

1. Introduction to Islam. (If you take this module, then the terrorists have won)

2. Woman on woman: literature of liberation (It is not what you think)

3. Introduction to Metaphysics (Nothing here you cant pickup by eating the wrong mushroom in a camping trip)

4. Ethnic stereotypes and the humor of cruelty (The professor will tell some hilarious jokes and you are not allowed to laugh)

5. Dance for Men (Go ahead. Break your mother's heart)

6. Carrer is poetry (Just move back in with your parents. Now)

There are many many more funny stuff in the book. But I do disagree in lots of his ideas, especially about old people, god belief, etc, etc. And also there are few things that make you frown. But the book is definitely worth reading. And I think I might buy this book. I almost forgot to mention, this is a New York Times Best seller.

Warning - if you hate sarcasm or if you get easily offended by sexual or racist jokes, then don’t ever read this book. This is not for the faint hearted.

KamalHaasan in Dasavatharam - 1

Easily one of the most expected movies this year. And the grand Audio release just increased the expectation levels.

Before going any further, i have to say, i am one of the Die-Hard fans of Kamal. He is one of the best actors in Tamil cinema. Actually one of the Best in Indian cinema. During his long career, he has done some pretty amazing acting. His knowledge in this field is vast than anyone else. He is a good singer. Very good director. Above all, he is one of the best screenplay writers. You name any department in film industry, from production till editing, KamalHaasan is quite comparable to one of the best in that field. One of the very very few poeple in Tamil Industry who have good taste and quality in their mind when they make movies. Lets leave personal life here. This is completely cinema.

Dasavatharam is quite promising. But to be honest, i expected a lot more from Kamal. First of all, i dont understand, why he should act in 10 different roles? My point is, if the 10 roles are not connected to one another, then there is no point why same actor has to do that. If you need someone to act as the President of America, find a suitable guy. Why go the unnecessary extra trouble of doing expensive make-up for that? If you dont want to stop there, why not go ahead and act all the characters in the movie and with special effects, you can still make a movie. Kamal can act as the lead lady of the movie, he can act as the villains. In todays technology anything is possible. Why not do that? i really dont see anyone asking this same question. Maybe, the answer is obvious, but i am missing to see it. If you think that is the reason, let me know. I will be glad to know the reason. It seems to me, 10 roles is something that they desperately introduce in the movie so that they can get an attractive number. i gotta wait and see the movie before saying anything else.

I strongly beleive that, if the story doesnt demand the same guy to do different roles, Kamal should not do it. Just because he is capable of handling different modulations, doesnt mean he should convert the movie into some guessing game. But the movie comes with a commercial banner. In that way, it is a good idea. But for Kamal this is not good enough.

The moment i heard about Kamal doing 10 roles, i figured the movie is going to be like "The man from Earth".(It is a great movie. I strongly recommend. this is the tagline for this movie, "What if Jesus is alive?"). the movie is basically about a guy who has never died. He lived through all the centuries and he changed his appearance according to the century he lived in. That is the story of the movie. I thought Dasvatharam is going to be something like this. But the story line is quite disappointing to me, personally. Kamal is one of the few people in Tamil industry, who is contantly following new trends. He has always adopted new ideas and technologies from the Hollywood.

The songs are quite ok. But not that great. But lets face it, most of Kamal's movie songs are not a big hit. (Talking about songs, can you name me one movie that Vijay has acted and it is a failure with respect to songs? Somehow, all his movie songs are good)

Anyhow, i am really lookign forward to the release of this movie. Lets see.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Global Warming

Recent Time Magazine cover
Special Green Issue

This is one of the biggest problems we are facing right now. This is not a rumor anymore. This is not a Myth. Robots taking over the world, is far in the future, if that happens. But Global warming is current issue. And this cannot be more real than it is now.

In just a few years time, Global warming is seriously going to affect the entire ecosystem. All the hugely populated coastal areas and the low lying lands will experience rise in sea level and constant floods. Global warming will result in melting of the Glaciers, which will also result in flood in the initial stage. But after 30 years, there will be huge scarcity for fresh drinking water. Predictions are that, 1 Billion people wont get drinking water by 2030. And this prediction is for Asia alone. Most of the fresh water rivers in Asia have their source in some glacier. Imagine India without Ganges. If water resources deplete, that is a death sentence. Science can help only a little in these extreme situations.

Effect of Global Warming in Arctic

Sea temperature will increase and marine life will be affected. Lots of agriculture products will become impossible to harvest. There will be a acute shortage for food. Lack of good drinking water will result in lots of diseases and other illness among living species. It is scary isn't it? It is about to get a lot worse. All this will happen in 2030 or sooner. Not too far, if we continue our current life style.

But we live our life as if we have another spare world, where we can shift if this one is totally destroyed. But nowadays, the awareness is comparatively high. If you still dont know about "Earth hour", then i am absolutely right in saying that we are so careless. "Earth hour" is a recent initiative, where people voluntarily switch off all the electrical appliances including Lights, PCs, etc, etc for 60 minutes. Most people don't understand the reason behind this. "Earth hour" is not to save the power during that 60 minutes. But it is just to give people a feel of how life will be in 50 years.

But i personally don't think this will help change anything drastically. Not many of us really care about all this. But there is a way. You know, in our house, we don't waste power. For example, we don't switch on fans, when it is not necessary. Frankly the reason is not to save the world. But to save money. (In middle class families every penny counts)

What is the lesson learnt? Global warming can be tackled only if we convert that into an economic issue. How do you think Singapore is so clean? Do you think it is because all the citizens are so good and considerate that they don't wanna pollute their country? Totally wrong. It is because of the heavy Fines. That is the most practical way to address Global warming. When you do this, there will be few other problems like double-digit rise in inflation, etc. But that is a lot smaller problem compared to Global Warming.

I firmly believe, when it becomes an economic issue, everybody will try to "save the earth". How can you convert it to an economic issue? Increase the oil price. Force everyone to reduce green house emissions. Give rebates to people who help in preventing Global warming, like Tax rebates, etc. That is the most practical way to address this issue. If you don't believe me, read this article in todays New York Times. Due to the increase in oil price (btw, today's Oil price is 126.04 USD per barrel, highest ever) there is a considerate increase in percentage of people using Mass Rapid Transits in US.

You cannot ask people to reduce the usage of oil for the world's sake. But when you double oil price, then everything will be fine. This might sound like a very scary idea, but trust me, better now than later. I am not totally wrong, am I ?